Employees prepare to dump and plow trash onto the landfill on Monday, July 22, 2019 at Bedford County Landfill.

BEDFORD — With major changes on the horizon — such as the new mega-landfill slated for Cumberland County — the local waste management landscape, including that of Bedford County, is shifting toward transferring its waste outside of the region.

County officials continue to look at options for dealing with solid waste before the Bedford County Landfill reaches its storage capacity in the next two years.

“We wanted to have this discussion before it was too late,” Bedford County Administrator Robert Hiss said during the Bedford County Board of Supervisor’s work session Monday afternoon. “It will help us put this on next year’s budget.”

County officials have been searching for a solution since a survey determined the county landfill only had about two years of storage capacity left, about six years sooner than previously thought.

A survey conducted in June of 2018 by Midlothian-based SCS Engineers concluded the landfill had an additional six to eight years before the county would have to look at expanding the landfill or transferring its waste to a landfill outside the county. However, a second survey conducted in January by Blacksburg-based design and planning firm Draper Aden Associates concluded the previous estimate was not accurate.

According to staff reports, the county has to modify the current county transfer station so trash can be transported to another landfill while the county expands the existing landfill, which will take an estimated five years. County officials also can consider closing the landfill and transporting waste to another landfill permanently.

In May, county officials began discussions with the Region 2000 Services Authority to transport 15,000 tons of solid waste to the Livestock Road Regional Landfill in Campbell County each year for five years. In September, the Campbell County authority voted to reject Bedford County’s offer, citing concerns that accepting out-of-service-area waste would shorten the lifespan of the landfill in Campbell County.

During Monday’s work session, Lynn Klappich — program manager with Draper Aden Associates — discussed the county’s options for solid waste disposal after the current landfill reaches capacity.

“There are several options available to Bedford County,” Klappich said. “We wanted to explore these options tonight.”

According to the study — which was submitted to the board by Draper Aden — Bedford County has the option to continue landfill operations and open a new 7-acre cell to the current landfill; transfer waste disposal operations outside the county permanently and close the current landfill; or to develop a “hybrid” operation that would include keeping some of the county’s waste at a 2-acre cell at the current landfill and transferring the remainder of the waste outside of the county.

“This is just a cost-of-service evaluation to compare the three options,” Klappich said. “Each of these options has its pros and cons.”

According to the report presented Monday, if the county chooses to open a new 7-acre cell at its landfill and continue its waste collection operations, the total cost — during the next 35 years — would be about $175 million. The cost of closing the current landfill and permanently transferring waste to an outside landfill would be about $173 million through 2055. The cost to open a new 2-acre landfill cell — keeping part of the county’s waste and transferring the remaining waste — would be about $226 million during the next 35 years.

“We only added the third option to show the costs involved,” Klappich said. “We never considered this as an option that you would consider.”

District 5 Supervisor Tommy Scott spoke in favor of county staff starting the process of shutting down the current landfill and securing a contract to permanently transfer the county’s waste to another landfill in the region.

“I think you all know which way we are leaning,” Scott said Monday. “I would like staff to begin this process.”

District 3 Supervisor Charla Bansley agreed.

“I think this is the way we’ve been leaning all along,” Bansley said. “I think we all feel that option two is the way to go.”

District 6 Supervisor Bob Davis said although the county should initiate steps toward closing the landfill, it should reserve zoning rights on certain county-owned proprieties to reopen a landfill cell if needed in the future.

“Once you close a property down it takes a lot to get back to the point where you can use it,” Davis said. “I don’t want to have to start that process again.”

District 1 Supervisor Mickey Johnson agreed.

“We don’t need to lose that zoning or permitting if we shut the landfill down,” Johnson said. “We need to keep our options open.”

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Shannon Keith covers Bedford County for The News & Advance. Reach him at (434) 385-5530.

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